A new development came today in the constitutional crisis at the head of the state when the prime minister (PM), Pravind Jugnauth, held a press conference where he expressed his “shock” at President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim’s refusal to resign. It had been previously announced by the PM last Friday that Gurib-Fakim, currently embroiled in an alleged corruption scandal, “would step down shortly after the 12 March 50th anniversary of independence celebrations, but definitely prior to parliament resuming”.
Jugnauth declared that “shock is not a strong enough word” to describe his reaction to the president’s U-turn. “The president’s attitude is deplorable and disgraceful; it harms the institution of the presidency. Her behaviour does not honour our Republic. The president decided to go back on her word in an inelegant and shameful way. She has shown an utter lack of respect towards the state and the Mauritian population,” the PM declared.
Pravind Jugnauth also clarified the sequence of events that led to Friday’s press conference. On Tuesday 6 March, the PM and his deputy prime minister, Ivan Collendavelloo, met the president at the State House. They invited the president to resign in the wake of the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) credit card controversy revealed by our sister publication l’express on 28 February. On the same day, at the launch of the 50th anniversary of independence celebrations in Port Louis, Jugnauth made a statement to the press where he said that the president and he “were not on the same wavelength”.
On Thursday 8 March, the president apparently asked to meet the PM as soon as possible. The PM met the president on his own on the same day at the State House and, according to Jugnauth, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim declared that “after mulling over the situation, she had decided to resign”.
At his press conference today, the PM argued that “at no point after the [Friday] press conference did the president clearly say that she would not resign. It’s only yesterday [note: Wednesday 14 March] that her office released a communiqué where it was mentioned that the president “rejects any prospect of resignation”. “The president’s silence shows that she agreed with what I said to the press [on Friday afternoon],” posited Jugnauth. Yesterday’s communiqué also stated that president Gurib-Fakim has “nothing to reproach herself with”, having “reimbursed” the expenses “inadvertently” incurred using the credit card the president had “received” from the PEI.
“The president might have an explanation as to why she still hasn’t resigned even though she told me she would. She hasn’t denied my statements yet either,” Jugnauth also said.
For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected](link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)(link sends e-mail)